'Wizard' who went from creating window displays to mega visual spectacles

Mr Adrian Goh, managing director of Hexogon Solution, a specialist company in light, sounds, and video mapping.
Mr Adrian Goh, managing director of Hexogon Solution, a specialist company in light, sounds, and video mapping.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - When Adrian Goh started his window display and exhibition company Mozz Creation in 1997, the first business he got was from gift retailer Cards n Such, to dress up a store's window display with a $200 budget.

But he yearned for a bigger "stage" for his creative designs.

Two decades later, Mr Goh, now 41, has got his wish - his company, renamed Hexogon Solution in 2008, is now a leader in the more dynamic field of projection mapping.

This involves using videos, images and animation to create visual spectacles projected onto structural surfaces, such as a building's facade.

Hexogon has clinched big projects in Singapore such as the National Day Parade, the Singapore Grand Prix, and the recent Marina Bay Countdown.

The company set a Guinness World Record at the 2015 SEA Games for producing the greatest light output on a single canvas, by using 160 digital projectors at the opening ceremony at the National Stadium.

Mr Goh recounted how he went from window to stadium displays during an interview with The Straits Times last week.

"In window displays, I'm enclosed by a glass panel and four partition panels," he said.

But the fan of The Phantom Of The Opera - he has watched it at least 20 times - was interested in conjuring up magic on a bigger scale. He said: "I was fascinated with the transformation - the ability to create something in a confined stage setting."

His company moved on to work on exhibitions and launches.

"I wanted to have big stuff, I wanted things to fly or be hoisted... I remember a launch we did with Breitling (watches) - we had a flying fox down from Ngee Ann City with fireworks and a life-sized jet," he said.

Even then, Mr Goh still felt like he "wanted something bigger".

That something turned out to be projection mapping, which Hexogon got into in 2010.

"When I saw projection mapping, I was 'wowed'. I saw what I liked. You can do optical illusions - like making a building 'shake' or have things popping out - that caught my attention," said Mr Goh, who is Hexogon's group managing director.

Various buildings and structures in Singapore - including The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, the Sentosa Merlion, and Art Science Museum - have become the canvas on which Hexogon, which has 40 staff, has projected its creativity on.

The company has expanded regionally, with offices in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong.

It was also invited by the New Taipei City Government to do a 3D projection mapping on the New Taipei City Hall, for the city's 2016 Christmas celebrations.

Hexogon's success represents a transformation in fortune for Mr Goh, who once dropped out of his visual merchandising course at Lasalle International Fashion School as he could not pay the fees.

As his family was not well to do, it was tough to pay the $1,000-a-month fees.

But Mr Goh was helped by a lecturer, Mr Bemas Chan, who spoke to the school's principal to arrange a deal in which Mr Goh paid half the fees and worked for the school in return.

Mr Goh went on to work as a technician in the school's visual design department workshop, to clean up the area and keep tools in order.

Mr Chan, 60, now a freelance multi-disciplinary designer and artist, said : "Adrian was always quick at solving design problems, and getting the assignments done well on time.

"He listened to my critiques, and always challenged himself in every given task," he added.

Mr Goh scored his first gig through an internship, doing up window displays for Italian clothing line, Loro Piana, which hired him for a few months after he graduated.

In 1997, he started Mozz Creation, slowly building up his clientele to include the likes of FJ Benjamin and the Swatch Group.

In 2012, Mr Goh started doing video mapping for a few customers before gunning for and taking on bigger projects, such as i Light Marina Bay festival and the National Day Parade.

Mr Goh is married to Ms Maria Kong, also 41, and Hexogon's marketing director. They have two daughters, Ashley, seven, and Ashlyn, four, and a newborn son, Ashton.

Despite his heavy workload, Mr Goh said he sets aside two hours a day for his children. When in Singapore, he sends Ashley to school at 6am everyday, even when he pulls a late night and hits the sack at 4am.

"My first daughter is very involved in my work. Before the first day of a show, she will come and watch it. She even draws storyboards and cartoons. I don't want to disappoint her so I infuse a bit into the shows," he added.

Projection mapping combines Mr Goh's fascination with the arts and technology, as seen by his love for The Phantom Of The Opera, and the Marvel comic superhero Iron Man.

In Hexogon's office at CT Hub 2 along Lavender Street, some 50 Iron Man replica figurines adorn an entire wall display.

Summing up, Mr Goh said: "From when I started business until now, it's all about trying. I'm not conservative, but I'm very careful. If you get the chance to do what you want but fail a client, it's the end of the story for you."

He added: "So I'll do a lot of research and testing before I'm ready. Get the opportunity and give it your best shot."